Top 4 Endurance Training Takeaways from 2017


By Jason Koop
CTS Coaching Director
Author, “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning

As the year draws to a close the ultrarunning coaches and I have been reviewing our year, just as we do with our athletes and we hope you’re doing for yourself. This year has been all about growth, not necessarily in terms of the number of ultrarunners coached by CTS or the number of podium finishes those athletes racked up, but rather in terms of our growth as coaches. That’s good news for all our athletes, and for you, because each of our insights or “Ah Ha!” moments can help you have a great year in 2018!

Be Scared, Then Do It Anyway

From Coach Corrine Malcolm:
“Despite my academic background and personal experience, as a new coach for CTS I was worried I wasn’t going to be good at this. I was worried I would do the wrong things, prescribe the wrong workouts, and that I would fail. I was incredibly hung up by this fear of failure. But this group of ultrarunning coaches believed in me, they didn’t baby me, and I found an environment I could flourish in personally and professionally. This doesn’t mean that I know everything, and I’m grateful to have so many brilliant brains to pick week in and week out.”

There’s an old motivational trope that goes, “Do something every day that scares you.” As an ultrarunner that scary thing doesn’t start and end in a single day. The ultrarunning goal you are most likely to successfully achieve is the one ambitious enough to scare you. It’s okay to be scared, just don’t let that fear stop you. Believe in yourself and your support system, and find or create an environment that helps you flourish and thrive.

Seek Excellence In The Smallest Steps

From Coach John Fitzgerald:
“I had the following quote from Robert Collier on my fridge growing up: ‘Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.’ It’s a mindset I encourage each of my athletes to adopt. Consistency, good habits, and effective routines can do more for an athlete than infrequent, epic efforts. Seeing my athletes progress over time and achieve their dreams has been a highlight for me this season.”

To experience the joy and sense of accomplishment that comes from completing an extreme effort or event, you first have to find joy in everyday efforts. You have to enjoy the process of training in all its iterations, and seek excellence in the small steps that comprise the process. Athletes who only find joy in the final outcome don’t tend to stick around in ultrarunning – or any endurance sport. As an athlete, longevity and success originates with a passion for the process.

Find a Strong Pack

From Coach Adam St. Pierre:
“I spent 2 years as a ‘lone wolf’ coach. There were a lot of good things about it, but I missed having a team surrounding me. Since joining CTS I’ve become a better coach. Having a group of coaches to share ideas with, debate training philosophies with, and explore new methods with has forced me to up my game and be a better coach for my athletes.”

Solitude is part of what draws many people to endurance sports, including ultrarunning. There’s something special about having time to yourself on long runs, and something empowering about those long stretches of empty trail during races. But engaging with the ultrarunning community and other athletes who share your passions opens you up to new information, sources of inspiration, and support. There’s a reason the lone wolf is the exception rather than the rule.

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Build Something Beyond Yourself

My best insight from this year is summarized by a quote from one of my favorite coaches, Phil Jackson: “The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Since the publication of “Training Essentials for Ultrarunning” there has been a surge of ultrarunners signing up for coaching. I’m honored so many people believe in me and the training methods I wrote about, but it would be a personal failure to build a team of coaches that revolved around me. More than that, it would be hubris to think athletes would be best served that way.

The strength of the team of coaches I work with, including John Fitzgerald, Corrine Malcolm, Andy Jones-Wilkins, David Henry, Adam St. Pierre, and Darcie Murphy, is greater than the sum of its parts. We each have a good niche or strength to bring to the table, and collectively the group has more coaching and event experience than any of us could achieve in a lifetime. Our athletes draw upon all of that knowledge and experience every day, and that gives each athlete the best chance at success.

If the knowledge, experience, and passion you have for your sport – or career, hobby, etc. – reside only in you, you are wasting an opportunity to enrich the world around you. Share what you know and be open to learning from those around you. That’s the only way we ever get to have an impact beyond the limited number of people we can directly interact with.

2017 – By the Numbers

What can I say; I’m a data guy. Part of building a strong team is seeing what it can accomplish, so here’s some of what our team did in 2017 to become an even stronger team for 2018.

Athletes coached: 235 (who accomplished 288 ultramarathon finishes)
Athletes crewed for: 48
Hours of Continuing Education: 487
Articles written: 75
Training Camp Days: 75

Comments 7

  1. Pingback: Ultra Trail Running Daily News | Wed Dec 27 | Ultramarathon

  2. Started with CTS and coach John Fitzgerald this year and after a few months I’m already feeling in the best shape of my life, at 57.
    John does a very fine job, thanks.

  3. Love love love this! When I sat down and made a list of possible coaches to reach out to this year, one of the reasons CTS was so high on the list was the fact that I knew my coach had an arsenal of other coaches to reach out to. I was also well aware that said coaches were actually encouraged to reach out to their team of coaches and trouble shoot. That is pretty unique. Far too many coaches keep their athletes close to the chest and don’t reach out when they are stuck on something. I was simply not ok with being that “something”. Thanks for all you do guys!

  4. This just reinforces what I knew was a good decision to begin coaching with CTS this past fall. My coach (David Henry) is awesome, made even better by this solid team. Looking forward to doing things that scare me in 2018!

  5. …”passion for the process…” is absolutely correct – without it, you’re dead in your tracks.
    Thanks for the great article and reminders.
    Happy New 2018!

  6. Great thoughts and good to be reminded of them. Very often we pay lip service only and don’t come through on those things we know but don’t put into practice.

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